Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland told a group of people recently that he's determined to get rid of the company that prepares the food for USDA's cafeterias as well as his dining room.
Bergland, who was attending a reception for the newly sworn-in Assistant Secretary for Food and Nutrition, Carol Foreman, said the food "is the worst in town.
"I told my people to break the contract if they have to and let them sue us."
Bergland said he wants to make the food at USDA a model for other government agencies, not only for taste but for nutrition.
Government Services Incorporated services the Agriculture Department and most other federal agencies.
The Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs held hearings two weeks in a row; the first so the beef industry could have its say; the second to explore the importance of fiber in the diet.
The beef industry had asked to testify because of a report the Senate Nutrition Committee had issued that said Americans should eat less red meat.
The report, "Dietary Goals for the United States," calls for drastic changes in eating habits, including a decrease in the consumption of fat in general and specifically red meat and an increase in the consumption of fish and poultry.
The beef industry had asked the committee to remove the report from circulation and change it so that instead of recommending consumption of "less meat" it recommends consumption of "lean meat."
At the fiber hearings four experts testified that Americans should eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals. Some of the witnesses said such a diet would probably reduce the incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, varicose veins and hemarrhoids; other were not so sure. But all agreed that more fiber in the diet is necessary.
The experts said the best way to get fiber is by eatings foods that are naturally high in it. They did not feel that adding fiber to food that did not ordinarily contain it was such a good idea.
Committee Chairman George McGovern (D-S.D.) raised the question of Fresh Horizons Special Formula Bread, which contains fiber in the form of powdered cellulose. The cellulose is made from wood pulp.
In his opening remarks McGovern said: "As one who grew up in the great plains I assumed that the fiber was the natural fiber found in wheat. Recently I have learned, however, that the fiber is actually wood pulp or sawdust.
"Canada has banned the sale of Fresh Horizons and yet we find it in almost every grocery store."
The senator added, "I am not saying the product should or shouldn't be banned or that there is necessarily any harmful effect to consuming wood pulp. I am merely using it as an example to point out the many unanswered questions concerning dietary fiber."
A spokesman for ITT-Continental Baking Company, which manufactures the bread, took exception to McGovern's description of the powdered cellulose as "sawdust."
Several of the other committee members asked the witnesses if the bread should be banned.
Dr. Hugh Trowell, a British physician, told the committee that at a dietary fiber workshop earlier the week there had been no consensus about the bread - whether it was useful or harmful in the diet.
However, Trowell likened the Western diet to a box and its contents: We take out the contents, the protein, fat, etc. and feed the box - the fiber - to animals. We should be eating the box with its contents, Trowell said.
A Nutrition Workshop designed to teach parents how to get their children to eat vegetables begins April 11 at the Greenbelt Library at 7:30 p.m. For additional information call Mrs. Boysen at 322-9047.